A charming adventure stocked with a house-sized spider, an Afro comb gifted by a goddess, and a giant flying rodent—one who...

AKATA WARRIOR

A soccer-loving, American-born Nigerian 13-year-old matures into her mystical powers.

A few years after her Igbo parents brought their children to live in Nigeria (Akata Witch, 2011), Sunny Nwazue had learned she belonged to the mystical Leopard People. Now she alternates among regular school; Leopard training with her teacher, Sugar Cream; training with her magical alter ego spirit face; and hiding her secret life from her parents and brothers. Sunny is albino, though her magic has eliminated most disabling effects aside from a need to wear glasses. A superstitious bigot accuses Sunny (who does draw supernatural power from her albinism) of being a witch; as albino Nigerians suffer genuine harm from such accusations, the truth in this attack strikes a discordant note. The magic appears influenced by Igbo religious practices in Sunny’s diverse Nigeria, populated by Muslims and Christians, where Sunny and her African-American and Nigerian friends learn magic and eat in Uzoma’s Chinese Restaurant. Sunny's been having strange nightmares, possibly tied to new environmental disasters. An oracle explains that these dreams are prophetic and sends her and her friends to a magical city populated with spirits who chat on cellphones. Much like their magical world, it’s “simultaneously ancient and modern West African.” It’s a hefty tome for a middle school read, but Sunny’s an inviting character who keeps the pace moving.

A charming adventure stocked with a house-sized spider, an Afro comb gifted by a goddess, and a giant flying rodent—one who loves hip-hop. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-78561-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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